Pacers with Haliburton:
While the Pacers were pretty bad without Haliburton, that was to be expected by most people, and the general consensus was that they would return back to their competitive form once he returned from injury against the Lakers on February 2, 2023. And while Tyrese and the Pacers did give fans a treat that night, scoring 26 points and handing out 12 assists en route to a 1-point loss, the Pacers’ fortunes would only slightly get better in the 10 games that followed his return.
In the 10 games since Tyrese’s return, the Pacers have gone 3-7 with those victories being a 3-point win over the Sacramento Kings missing De’Aaron Fox, a 24-point comeback win over the Chicago Bulls, and a decisive 13-point win over the lowly Orlando Magic. In these 10 games, Tyrese has averaged 18 points, 10 assists, and 2 rebounds on 49/40/81% splits, which is a bit down from his 10 games before the injury, where he was averaging 21/9/4 while shooting 51/43/91%. However, this is to be expected since he has just returned from an injury and needed time to get back into the swing of things after missing 10 games.
Despite Haliburton’s efforts, the Pacers have been on the losing end of some pretty competitive games, including that aforementioned loss to the Lakers by 1 point and a 4-point overtime loss to the 1-seeded Boston Celtics. However, for every competitive loss against a powerhouse team, there’s a blowout loss to a not-as-good team, such as a 14-point loss to a 26-29 Wizards team or a 19-point loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The fact that the Pacers have had a few games suiting up only 9 players due to injury has not helped much either, with the likes of Oshae Brissett, Chris Duarte, and Isaiah Jackson all missing time due to injury over this 10-game span.
Through said 10 games, the Pacers have definitely improved in some categories but have gotten worse in others. They have scored an average of 114 points, slightly higher than the 113 they averaged in the 10 games before. In addition to this, they have also committed fewer turnovers (127 vs 154), committed fewer fouls, (205 vs 212), and have shot better from the field and the 3-point line (47/39% vs 44/33%). However, these numbers are clearly not as good as their 10 games before Tyrese’s injury, perhaps signaling that the writing is on the wall for the Pacers this year. As they sit with a 27-35 record and the 12th seed in the East (out of the play-in), perhaps they might take it easy for the rest of the season en route to a potential top 5 draft pick.
One thing’s for sure though, the Indiana Pacers that we have seen over the past 20 games are not the same team we saw during the first half of the season, for better or for worse.